Kidnapping Case Highlights Need for Security Cameras at Park Entrances and Exits

Photo courtesy of Sen. Jim Tedisco’s Office
From left, Assemblyman John McDonald, D-Cohoes, Senator Jim Tedisco, R-Ballston Lake, Mary Lyall of Ballston Spa, co-founder of the Center for Hope, and Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie.

This week, Craig Ross Jr. will receive sentencing for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 9-year old girl from Moreau State Park in Saratoga County last fall. Ross faces 47 years to life in prison after pleading guilty back in February. 

Senator Jim Tedisco, R-Ballston Lake, and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, are currently sponsoring legislation (S.7688/A.8141) that would require the installation of security camera systems that would allow for the identification of make, model, and plate number of vehicles entering and exiting any state park, historic site, campground, or recreational facilities. 

This case made national news and inspired Tedisco and Santabarbara to draft the legislation within days of the case. “If we had those cameras, he had a car, we could have gotten his license plate” said Tedisco. This type of surveillance would be an important tool to aid law enforcement in the future, the lawmakers say.

The girl disappeared on September 30, 2023 after going for a bike ride at Moreau Lake State Park. She had been riding with friends and decided to go on one last ride alone, and wasn’t seen again for two days. She was found hidden in a cabinet inside a trailer found behind Ross’s mothers house. Ross was found after the girl’s family received a ransom note that had his fingerprints on it. 

Senator Tedisco has sponsored several bills and initiatives in his career that helps families of missing persons, he is known within the state Legislature as an expert on the subject. He continuously joins Mary Lyall, a Ballston Spa resident, and the Center for Hope at their annual New York State Missing Persons Day Ceremony. 

Missing Persons Day is organized by Mary Lyall, who started The Center for Hope along with her late husband. The Center for Hope is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide resources to educate, assist, and support families and friends in coping with unexplained disappearances. This organization should “enhance the ability to find these people,” said Tedisco.

Lyall and her husband started The Center for Hope after their daughter, Suzanne G. Lyall went missing. On March 2, 1998 the undergraduate student at SUNY Albany left her job at the Babbage’s in Crossgates mall, after the store closed, and has not been seen since. She was believed to have taken a city bus from the mall back to campus, where a friend claims she saw her get off the bus at Collins Circle, however, it has not been confirmed. 

There were a couple suspects including her boyfriend at the time, who hasn’t been able to be completely ruled out as a suspect. There was also a man who used the ATM around the same time Lyall’s credit card was reportedly used. But no usable security footage was uncovered, and he has since been ruled out. 

Disappearances and abductions are too common in the United States, especially in and around state parks. The proposed legislation (S.7688/A.8141)  would be a practical step to help stop abductions, Tedisco said. He added that another important step is education, not only in schools, but for parents, “not to freak out the kids,” but to teach them the signs of stranger-danger, explained Tedisco. 

The governor has included funding for security cameras at park entrances and exits in her proposed state budget.